Tag Archives: Chris F. Holm

Blog Tour: Writers Blog Tour

Below is a post with a few questions and answers as part of a writers process blog chain going around the internet. I was nominated by Ruth Booth on her website and so at the bottom I’ve highlighted three more people who at some point in the future may post a similar blog. You get the idea.

What am I working on?

Currently I’m hip deep in structural edits for Battlemage which is due out next year in October from Orbit. When that’s done I will switch back to working on the first draft of book 2, while somewhere in the back of my head I will start knitting together the strands for book 3. I’m also nudging along a couple of comic book projects, both of which I’m co-writing with Pete Rogers. The first is a SF contemporary thriller graphic novel, and the other is a fly by the seat of your pants action thriller. A while ago now, I wrote a game for a computer games company, and that’s currently in the testing phase, so every now and then I play through sections of the game and send in my notes. Then a few weeks later download the next version and start all over again.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

This is a really tough question and there’s no easy way to answer it. In the future I suspect other people will point out the similarities between my work and other fantasy writers, as well as some of the influences that are obvious to them. From the inside looking out, all I can say is I think my novels are a blend of modern and classic fantasy elements. They’re more fantastical than some, as magic is overt and not something that is brushed under the carpet, or only referred to in passing by characters. Also there are some non-human races of my own creation that are not facsimiles of orcs, trolls or elves. So this isn’t an alternate Medieval version of Earth, it’s definitely a totally different world. At the same time I have a modern eye, so I’m influenced by modern literature and media, which I think affects everything from character, to story, to pacing, to world building. One example is that while my dialogue is modern up to a point, it is also right for the setting, so no characters says OK, or Yeah at any time. Beyond that I’m not sure what else to add, but I’m positive other people will tell me.

Why do I write what I do?

Because no one else can write it. That might sound flippant or arrogant, but it’s not intended to be either. If someone had consumed all of the same books, TV, films, comics etc, that I have, and even if you gave them the core of the idea, the output would be different. I have several friends who have consumed a lot of the same stuff, but when we talk about stories they have radically different ideas and approaches. We’re all products of not only our upbringing, family, relationships, experiences and so on, but we all react differently to situations. All of which is shaped by decades of experience which creates someone unique. There are so many random factors in there I’m certain I have missed plenty of other things that shape us. At an early age I became interested in fantasy and because my mum saw how much it made me want to read, she picked up a set of fantasy related picture books which I flew through. That was just one small thing that directed me over the years. Simply put I write fantasy stories because I love the genre and the freedom it gives me. It’s where I feel most comfortable when writing stories conjured from my imagination.

How does my writing process work?

I think it’s fairly traditional. I use a word processor, I don’t have timers that switch off the internet for an hour or two and I don’t set word counts for the day or week. I scribble down ideas in a notebook as and when they occur. I would describe my writing style as more of an architect than a gardener. I plan out the spine of the story, the main beats, the start, middle and end. I add in some mile markers along the way and revisit it at this level until it hangs together. Then I add a bit more detail and break it down into chapters while thinking about character and story arcs. Then I start writing, but I don’t plan every chapter down to the nth degree or every little detail. I know who is in each chapter, what needs to happen and where it takes places, but there has to be some discovery in the process for me, or else it will become tiresome and boring. And if it is boring for me to write it will be boring and very dry to read. So there is a random element in there, and sometimes it emerges as a new point of view. Sometimes they are minor characters and sometimes they become important and their story starts to intertwine with that of the main characters. Sometimes I write about something I’ve never mentioned before and then I have to puzzle out where it came from in my subconscious and what it actually means. Once the first draft is done I go back and edit it many times before I show it to anyone.

Who to pass this on to?

Kim Curran – Kim is the author of the Shift, Control and Delete trilogy from Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot books. She is also the author of Glaze, a new novel that has just come out and you can find more info about it on her website. I first met Kim a couple of years ago at an Eastercon convention I think it was where a large group of people went out to dinner. I must have avoided putting my size elevens in my mouth as she’s still talking to me.

Adrian Faulkner – Adrian is the author of The Four Realms from Anarchy Press. He is also a record breaking geocacher, storm chaser (no, really!) and all around good egg. He’s a top bloke, great creative writer and has been my stalwart companion at conventions for the last few years. You can find more information about Adrian here.

Chris F. Holm – Chris is the author of The Collector series from Angry Robot. They’re an incredible series of books and the easiest way I have found to describe them is demonic hard-boiled, pulpy noir. You can find more information about Chris on his website here.

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My Top 5 Books from 2013

Recently I recorded another episode of the geek culture and comics podcast I co-host, Comic Book Outsiders. We looked back at 2013 and talked about our favourite films, TV shows and other geek moments. I didn’t get around to talking about comics or books. So this is a list of my favourite 5 books I’ve read this year. Some weren’t published this year and they are not in order of preference.

The Public of Thieves by Scott  LynchThe Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch – This was probably my most anticipated book of 2013. It’s been a long time coming and when it was published I dedicated a good chunk of time to reading it before I went to the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. This is because Scott Lynch was attending the convention and even with the best intentions, someone usually manages to spoil a couple of things, so I made sure I was up to date. I also re-read the first two books as it had been a while since I’d read them and my previous impression was, the first book was excellent, the second not as good. This time around I thought the second book was actually really good. It had to be different from the first book for lots of reasons and there again The Republic of Thieves was different again, but very enjoyable for many reasons which I won’t spoil. Meeting Scott at a coffee get together thing he did at a local coffee shop, along with thirty other people, as well as hearing him speak on a panel, was also a highlight of the event. The book showed he had not lost his touch and even better is the news recently announced, that the 4th book in the series will be out next year. Two new books in two years. Fantastic. This novel gives us more detail about the main characters, the adventure is full of delicious duplicity, dodgy deals and as ever nothing goes according to plan. Apart from that I won’t say anymore but it’s a cracking good read and I highly recommend it.

The Big Reap Chris F. HolmThe Big Reap by Chris F. Holm – I’m very picky and fussy about my urban fantasy and supernatural noir, and unfortunately I just don’t enjoy most of it. It’s totally a personal thing. So I always approach a new author with a lot of trepidation. The Collector series by Holm, is probably best described as supernatural noir, as it’s set in our world, and there are demons and angels creeping around, but most people have no idea what’s going on. This is the third and final book in the Collector series (for now at least) and it was probably my favourite, although that’s splitting hairs as the series is excellent overall. The prose is incredibly tight, and sharp enough to cut you like a razor, it’s trimmed down to the bone with no fat or unnecessary exposition, and yet I never felt as if it was just three hundred plus pages of conversation which is what can sometimes happen. Dark, moody and rich, the series is tense, exciting, creepy and it always leaves me guessing. Plenty of twists that I didn’t see coming. There was an ending to this series, and if Holm and Angry Robot never do any more Collector books then I would be satisfied, but the door is open for more and I hope he’s able to revisit the series in the future. Other points of reference that I would pair it with, to give you an idea of what to expect, would be the Felix Castor novels by Mike Carey, as this is definitely a close kissing cousin, and the novels of Justin Gustainis, which both veer on the darker side.

Exit Kingdom by Alden Bell – This is the second book Exit Kingdom Alden Bellby Bell in his post apocalyptic world where zombies destroyed the earth many years ago. I should preface this by saying I’m not really a fan of horror, or zombie books in general. They’re just not my cup of tea. I don’t like zombie films at all and am not a fan of horror films either. So, when I first read The Reapers Are The Angels, I went into it cold, knowing nothing about it, except that it was the story of a girl named Temple. The book is amazing. It was my favourite book of the year when it came out and when I heard Bell was doing another I was very nervous. Then I found out it was a prequel, so I unclenched and bought a copy to savour during my summer holiday. The story follows the earlier life of Moses Todd, a character from Reapers and once again Bell has captured something wonderful in the pages. Moses is such a big character, a big man, and the story has a real southern gothic feel to it. The language used has a real poetry to it and the characters have a particular way of speaking that fits within that world, but would sound unusual in the modern world. This is an excellent prequel but you should definitely read Reapers first and then this second. I sort of hope Bell does more stories set within this world but I guess we’ll wait and see.

The Wise Man's FearThe Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss – I re-read The Name of the Wind before starting this, as it had been a couple of years and I’d forgotten some of the smaller details. A friend has recently started reading The Name of the Wind for the first time and she described it as a delicious meal, something you want to savour. The prose is almost poetic, it flows incredibly well, has fantastic rhythm and pace, and the story is very intriguing, full of mystery, suspense, magic and unexpected twists and turns. It’s not a spoiler to say the story follows the main character telling a scribe about his life and adventures, and he’s narrating the tale and during the first book I had suspicions that he wasn’t a reliable narrator. People exaggerate, they lie, they conceal details they don’t want to share, and I think we’re getting a version of the truth. The main character is a figure of myth, he’s a folk tale most people don’t even believe was ever real, but we see him in the present, and then in the past as he retells his adventures. It’s an interesting storytelling device, one I’ve not read before in a long running fantasy series. The second book builds very well on the first, Kvothe the main character goes into some very unexpected areas and we experience some of the stories that created the legend others talk about. Rothfuss is spinning a lot of plates in the story, but he’s also playing with the idea of story, expectation, myths and legends and how they are built, and I think how a story is told, hence lies mixed in with the truth. It’s an adventure story about a boy with red hair who grows up to be remarkable renaissance man and how he impacts the world around him. A wonderful read and I’m looking forward to the third and final book when it arrives.

Cold Days Jim ButcherCold Days by Jim Butcher – This book came out in late 2012 but I read it this year after holding on to the book for 3 months. That was all I could manage. I tried really hard not to blot out all other activities, work, food, sleep, and blast through a book in one sitting from the moment I received it as a present. Even though I would have enjoyed doing it. Because I knew the next book would not be publishing for at least a couple of years. So, Harry Dresden, we meet again. I won’t spoil the series and what’s happened up to now, but I will say that this is a series that never stands still. The Dresden Files is a long running series of standalone chronological stories that build on one another, all focused around the same central character. For me, it’s urban fantasy done the right way. The characters feel so incredibly real, despite the weird and magic, and after 13 books and several short stories, I feel as if I have a fairly good grip on who they are. However, I’ve no clue about the wizard behind the curtain, because he continually surprises me and the story is full of twists and turns. Time has moved on, Harry has changed, the world has changed and he can either start running and try to keep up or fall behind and curl up into a ball. If you know anything about Harry, you know he’s a fighter who never quits. Even when the odds are hideously stacked against him as they have been many times in the past. I’m dancing around the subject very carefully, but suffice to say, something goes wrong and Harry must once more fight to protect his city and the people that he loves. Overall I loved this story and it was another excellent addition to the series. Without a doubt this is one of my favourite series, maybe ever, so I can’t wait to see what Butcher does next and where the story goes.

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